Dear HUC-JIR community:
I am writing to provide some important updates as we manage the impact of the global spread of COVID-19.
The situation we are facing is changing rapidly. To manage the flow of information in a more consistent and helpful way, we will be updating our HUC COVID-19 website on a regular basis. We will also be using our emergency alert system, RAVE, to update you on major policy changes or to direct messages to specific populations within our system—students, faculty, or staff, for example. Please make a habit of checking the website at least once everyday to remain informed.
New information—Domestic Travel Restrictions.
Following the increasing practice of many institutions, and effective immediately, we are prohibiting all non-essential work-related domestic plane travel for our North American faculty, students, and staff through the end of Passover (April 19. We will be providing guidance to students regarding any fieldwork or internships impacted by this new policy. Later today, you should expect to hear from our business office with information about covering any costs associated with cancelation charges. We would ask that you first to try to recoup your costs with the carrier. (Please note that the prohibition on International Travel will extend through April 19 as well.)
Update: Cincinnati Campus Closure
Yesterday, a student on the Cincinnati Campus began to exhibit symptoms of a virus, including a fever. After testing negative for influenza late last night (a test that would have excluded the coronavirus as a source of the fever), this student is now being tested for COVID-19. Because the results of that test will not be available until later this week, we supported the recommendation of Dean Jonathan Hecht to close the Cincinnati campus.
Our decision to close the Cincinnati campus on Tuesday, March 10 and Wednesday, March 11, is consistent with other institutions that have been in similar situations. In responding to this evolving COVID-19 situation, we have remained sensitive to the local context of each of our campuses. The Cincinnati decision was made in consultation with Dr. Gary Zola, Executive Director of the AJA, and David Hoguet, interim CFO, who heads up the Business Office in Cincinnati. Most importantly, it was made out of an abundance of caution, recognizing the many communal activities were planned today on the campus.
The student was part of the delegation that went to AIPAC earlier this month; that may or may not have been the source of his current illness. The CDC and the Department of Health in Washington, DC have made clear that being at AIPAC alone is not a significant risk factor for contracting the virus. Unless a person shows clear symptoms, and until the person tests negative for other more likely causes (like the flu), there is no reason to be overly concerned. We wish this student a refuah shleima, a speedy recovery.
I thank you for your patience and support of each other as together we weather this unexpected and rapidly changing situation.
Purim teaches us about our capacity to overcome adversity and be strong. Wishing you a very happy, healthy, and resilient Purim!
Andrew Rehfeld, Ph.D.